We need to eat more veal; in-depth reasons can be found here, but simply put without our support in creating a market for British veal, raising male dairy calves as veal isn’t a viable business opportunity for farmers, and the result is a needless waste of life, as male dairy calves are shot within hours of being born.
Ideally, we should buy British rose veal where the calves are fed a diet of milk and grass, to allow proper digestive development while giving the meat a distinctive rose-pink colour. It is not always easy to find and is difficult to fully understand the exact diet that the calves were fed. If you are able to talk directly to a butcher then do so, but for most this isn’t possible so simply buying British veal (and it must be British) in Sainsbury’s or Waitrose is an excellent start in creating a market for veal, which will help support British farmers and stop the needless waste of life.
Veal is probably best described, flavour wise, as somewhere between pork and beef, which makes it ideal for a lasagne as traditional recipes often call for a mix of both. If you are able to get veal livers then do so as they add extra richness to the dish, chicken livers would also work. Lasagne is a labour of love as it does take time, but the end result is always worth it.
Cooking Time: 2 ½ hours
Equipment: Roasting dish approx. 22cm x 15cm
1 small onion (approx. 100g)
1 carrot (approx. 100g)
1 celery stick (approx. 75g)
2 garlic cloves
1tbsp tomato puree
250g veal mince
25g veal or chicken livers (optional)
125ml white wine
225g chicken stock
5g sage leaves
5 lasagne pasta sheets
30g plain flour
40g parmesan, grated
Begin by finely dicing the onion, carrot and celery. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over a low heat and add the diced vegetables. Grate/crush the garlic cloves and add to the pan, stir and cover with a lid and cook slowly for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Give them a stir occasionally and if they start to stick add a splash of water.
After 20 minutes stir in the tomato puree followed by the mince and diced liver if using. Stir again before turning the heat to medium. Pour in the wine, bring to the boil and cook for a couple of minutes. Next, add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 1-1 ¼ hours, until you are left with only a small amount of liquid – a ladleful at most.
Place the sage leaves and milk in a pan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. After this time, remove the sage leaves, weigh the milk and top back up to 350g
Once the ragu is cooked bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Drop in the lasagne sheets one at a time and cook for 6 minutes until just soft, but still with some bite. Drain, place in a bowl of cold water – so as they don’t stick together – until ready to use.
Heat the oven to 200c/180c (fan)/gas mark 6
In another pan melt the butter over a low heat, once melted whisk in the flour to create a paste. Next, add the milk a little at a time, whisking after each addition to create a smooth sauce. Once all the milk has been added allow the sauce to simmer for a couple of minutes and then check the seasoning, adding a little salt and pepper if necessary.
To assemble the lasagne; place a third of the meat sauce on the bottom of the dish, be stringent it should barely cover the bottom. Next add ¼ of the white sauce, don’t be tempted to cover the entire surface you’re aiming for more of a heavy drizzle rather than a complete covering, follow this with pasta sheets and then repeat the layers twice more – top the last layer of pasta with the remaining white sauce and sprinkle with the grated parmesan. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden. Allow to rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.
Printable version: Veal lasagne